Tens of thousands of Republicans came out to the polls on September 14th in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds to cast a vote for Christine O'Donnell. It was the end of a BRUTAL U.S. Senate primary campaign that pitted career politician (40+ years in elected office) and the most liberal Republican in the House of Representatives against a virtual newcomer in conservative activist Christine O'Donnell. Mike Castle ran a total smear campaign against Christine O'Donnell. He did not debate her and would not comment on the issues of the day. He did not feel that he needed to explain any of the votes he had made, including his vote in favor of the controversial Cap and Trade legislation. In short, Congressman Castle had moved too far ideologically from his base, he's become inaccessible and carried a sense of entitlement and he refused to answer to the people. His only plan for the campaign was to find ways to destroy who Christine O'Donnell was. He and his allies within the Delaware GOP ran the aggressive smear campaign without regard to the facts in evidence. They claimed her house had been foreclosed upon when she had indeed sold it before it was foreclosed upon. They claimed she had owed back taxes when in fact, the IRS had on more than one occasion stated that the "lien" on record was an unfortunate "computer error". They also claimed that she had misused campaign funds in a previous Senate campaign despite the fact that the FEC had investigated these concerns in 2008 and found them lacking any evidence. Mike Castle even had his people create blogs dedicated to the total destruction of Christine's character. He even influenced talk radio hosts in the state to lash out at Ms. O'Donnell. Christine was clearly frustrated by the lack of attention paid to the issues and she lashed out at the media and at Castle supporters who played such dirty tactics. In the end, September 15th was the beginning of a difficult General Election campaign. The reason is because of those tens of thousands of Delaware voters who came out to vote for Christine and in some cases against Mike Castle.
Castle lost the election despite his all out smear campaign against Christine O'Donnell. I was a key contributor to the message that dethroned Congressman Castle. This blog was picked up on many national blogs and some of my posts were used as fuel for national conservative talk show hosts and bloggers. I don't mean to brag but I won't hide MY bonafides the way some like Mr. Grant do theirs. I was a consistent caller to WILM and WDEL and I spent as much time, if not more, writing, researching and talking about Castle, O'Donnell and the race between the two. Well after the primary I went silent. The reason I went silent is because the O'Donnell campaign brought me on to do messaging and opposition work in the General Election. I did not feel it was proper to actively write during the campaign I was working on.
The General Election campaign did not go as well as we had hoped. Christine made some mistakes that the media pounced on and Coons made some too although you probably haven't heard too much about those. This time there were debates and Coons should have swept the floor with her using conventional wisdom...he was after all a 2-time...2-time...national debate champion in college. He'd attended Yale Divinity and he's been County Council President and County Council Executive. The problem was that she held his feet to the fire in a nationally televised debate on CNN...and then again on a local radio debate on WDEL. In fact, she consistently, in debate after debate, out witted Coons and held her own or flat out beat him in the debates. Finally, after a debate on WHYY in which she once again showed that her stance on issues was one that Coons could not refute, he decided to pull out of all future debate and declared that the people of Delaware knew all they needed to know. From the beginning of the campaign, Coons and the DSCC had run a SLEW of negative ads about Christine. They called her a witch, labeled her a wacko and used the same false information that the GOP leadership had provided during the primary campaign to paint her as a criminal. Christine's campaign had benefited GREATLY from her victory over Castle. She'd brought in millions of dollars for the campaign through major conservative media outlets and grassroots connections. The people of Delaware complained that the money was from outside Delaware but they don't tell you that more than 60% of Mike Castle's money came from out of state or that a similar number of Chris Coons' contributions likewise came from out of state. The Democrat fundraising tool called ActBlue raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Coons. Plus, he had something Christine didn't have, a party supporting him locally and nationally.
You see, Christine had upset the balance of power for the elites in the party. The leadership here in Delaware was turned on its head. One member had said that Christine could not beat Castle without $2 million and made fun of Christine's stand on conservative principles. They also made it clear that neither Christine nor Glen Urquhart were welcome to run for Republican seats because they had "never done anything for the party". Another leader told the world stage that Christine could "Never be elected dogcatcher." These are not acceptable statements by so-called party leaders. Nationally, even after the election, Karl Rove, Charles Krauthammer and other Republican national level leaders continued to pander about the lies and rumors that the Castle campaign had failed to prove to the primary electorate. While Coons had the DSCC spending millions on ads to run their attacks against Christine...the NRSC was no where to be found. In fact, once Castle lost the RNC all but shut down the "Victory Offices" that the GOP traditionally pays for so that the party can support GOTV efforts and voter identification efforts on behalf of the winning candidates.
Delaware has a weird election schedule as the primary election is only 6 weeks before the general election. This leaves very little time for turn around. The state GOP did not hand over the keys to the Victory office to Christine's campaign for 2+ weeks. This left a little over 3 weeks for the O'Donnell people to staff the office and utilize the phones. Let's also remember that the people who did the calling for O'Donnell generally also called for other candidates across the state. They reached across the ideological aisle to party candidates. In fact, Christine held a GOP unity event at her campaign HQ and personally presented checks to every candidate who attended. Those who did not attend were mailed checks. Some returned the checks in protest. She wanted to help the down ballot candidates and she wanted the party to succeed. Once the Victory office came online (thanks largely to the hard work of people like Charlie Copeland who has always been a bridge builder) the party did begin to chip in where it felt it HAD to.
Today, Delaware's National Committeewoman Priscilla Rakestraw went live on the "Rick Jensen Show" along with Mr. Ken Grant (a squishy Castle supporter) who wrote a quite vicious op-ed today in the News Journal (Delaware's version of the NYT). Priscilla went on to "address the notion that the state party did not help Christine". She cited a few things.
1.) The State GOP provided her with 40% of the Brandywine GOP office for her campaign efforts which was "taken over" by the O'Donnell campaign. Reality check: The O'Donnell campaign sent 1 staff member to the Brandywine GOP (The Victory office that it took us 2+ weeks to get) and the handful of volunteers each day who went into the victory office made calls for Christine, Glen, Colin Bonini and Tom Wagner (even some local candidates) which last I checked was a shared effort.
2.) The state GOP spent $250,000 on mailings for Christine's campaign. Reality check: The campaign designed the mailings and provided them to the printer...in fact, the campaign provided volunteers to transport the materials to and from the post office and to bring back the overruns. The party might have paid for the postage...but I can't confirm that.
3.) That the RNC "Fire Pelosi" bus tour had to make a second stop in Dover to meet Christine on the campaign trail. Reality Check: The media darling of the east coast, a woman who brought more energy and excitement to the state GOP than it's had in years, a woman who infused the party and Delaware politics with more money and energy than possibly ever before, requested that the party which had so far let her fight on the front lines against the ENTIRE Democrat Party and state controlled media drive 50 miles south (on their way to MD) to meet her in Dover.
Priscilla Rakestraw, I'm calling you out, which calls did you make? What block did you walk? Why didn't you show up to the meet and greets that I know you were invited to at two quite influential homes? If you worked so hard for the candidates, how come the ONLY event I saw you at was the one where Chairman Steele was but Christine wasn't? Tom Ross came to the GOP Unity event, where were YOU?
Finally, to Mr. Ken Grant, who felt so inclined to pile on to Ms. O'Donnell, what is the success that YOU have brought to the Delaware GOP? I hope, as former Communications Director that you had nothing to do with the rather weak website, the missing (or hidden) Twitter account and the lack of any coherent message that the Delaware GOP has (or doesn't as it may be). Christine brought, if nothing else, character and excitement to an otherwise dismal failure known as the Delaware GOP since 2000. Was she the perfect candidate? No. But she was good enough to beat Mike Castle in the primary, which means that the PEOPLE of the party thought she was the better choice. Before you ostracize the 30,000+ voters who chose her over Mike in the primary, or the 120,000+ voters who voted for her in the general election, before you tell those of us who supported her and who rejected an elitist, leftist who thought he was entitled to the Senate seat and above answering to the people who elected him, I suggest you look at the direction the Delaware GOP was going in when we came on the scene. Ask yourself why we felt that we needed to get involved in the first place. You rip Christine for any number of violations of "The Delaware Way" and you chastise her for the same lies and distortions that have been proven over, and over, and over again to be false. The fact is that you sir, have consistently touted every leftist initiative that Delaware's ruling class has put out there. Despite the fact that Jack Markell and Alan Levin have yet to create a job to replace the 2 auto plants and the Valero plant shutdown...or the many layoffs at Bank of America, CITI and Discover. You haven't spoken out about the lack of manufacturing jobs, the failures of the state government to root out corruption or the fact that Wilmington is going to hell in a hand basket yet you pretend to have a clue. Every now and again you promote some business or another, admirable to some extent but your answer to fixing Wilmington for instance is to put a movie theater at the Riverfront. How does that help impact the 18% unemployment in Wilmington? How does it address the rampant drug and gang violence in the city? How does it help the buildings that are literally crumbling? Or do you just not care as long as your arts and entertainment scene is in "the good part of town"?
The fact is that it is YOU sir and those like you who have run the party into the ground and WE (meaning the Patriot movement that helped sweep Christine to victory in September) intend to rebuild, revitalize and restart the party. Now, the way I see it there are three things that people like you can do:
1.) Get the hell out of the way and let us take the lead for a while so we can rebuild.
2.) Get in there and work WITH us to build this party in a way that we all are able to support it and that will make it THE place to be for Delaware voters.
3.) Obstruct us and eventually completely discredit yourselves publicly.
4.) Leave the party.
I sincerely hope you choose option 1 or 2. I would like to see you all choose the second option. I want to work WITH the people who have been involved not against them. Are there changes that must be made, YES. Some people are going to be be asked to leave their current roles and some will probably need to be forced out. Some will leave (and are already) their roles voluntarily. Some people who can be great assets are going to choose to leave and that is unfortunate. No one will get everything they want but everyone will get something. The party will be better off in the end and the bottom line is that "The Delaware Way", which is nothing more than a way for the powerful to maintain power, has been shattered. The PEOPLE have spoken and they want a say. As they say in the Army, Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way.